Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Ultimate Guide: How to Save Money on Makeup & How to Buy Good Makeup on a Budget

Makeup is one of my great loves. It's also one of my greatly expensive loves. The price tags didn't bother me when I was younger and had my mom funding my life (can I go back to simpler times?). But now that I'm all on my lonesome and supporting myself, paying so much money for what's essentially glorified face paint just isn't in my budget (I still love you, makeup!)

So, a girl thinks of ways to beat the system. And a girl succeeds.

For the record, I am NOT being sponsored by anyone to write this post. Anything I recommend is purely because I've tried it myself and had a great experience.

Part One: How to Save Money on Makeup

1. Swap with friends: Go through your makeup collection and ask a few friends to do the same. Pull out the things that you rarely ever use and swap them with your friends! They might just have an eyeshadow color that you've been dying to have. Of course, don't swap things that can't be sanitized, such as liquid eyeliners or mascaras.

2. Know what to splurge on: While I love designer makeup as much as the next girl, having an arsenal of it isn't economical for my broke college kid budget. So I figured out which products I prefer to have high end–mostly face products, like foundation and concealer–and which ones I'd be fine with just using drugstore products, like eyeshadow and lipstick. I still treat myself from time to time to those expensive Urban Decay and MAC products, but those are few and far in between. My everyday makeup is relatively cheap and, guess what, still gets the job done!

3. Find dupes: I know, I know, MAC eyeshadows are beautiful. Urban Decay comes out with some of the most gorgeous and pigmented shadows. Too Faced has the cutest collections! Here's the thing: so many of these higher end shadows have a low priced drugstore twin that's identical in color and pretty comparable in quality. A lot of the time with higher end makeup, you're paying for the name and the packaging. (Which is fine by me because I love Too Faced's packaging.) Plenty of Youtube beauty gurus make videos listing all the dupes they find for higher end makeup. If there's a certain color or palette you just have to have but can't afford, do some research!

4. Use what your have first: It's so easy to get sucked into the "ooh that's so pretty! I need it!" trap when makeup shopping. Trust me, I know. That's how I ended up with over 50 eyeshadow palettes that I know I'll probably never use up as long as I live. To stop myself, I've set a rule that I can only buy a new palette after I've completely finished one I already own. This works as a great deterrent because a) it's pretty hard to totally finish a palette and b) by the time I actually can buy the new palette I wanted, the urge has usually passed and I don't want it anymore. Bam, money saved. As a side bonus, with all those palettes that I own that have some stranger and more outrageous colors, it forces me to put together interesting looks that I probably wouldn't do

5. Look for multi-use products: I learned this trick from some makeup tutorials on youtube, but you can use one item of makeup for multiple purposes. For example, a shade of red or pink lipstick can also work as a cream blush. Certain matte eyeshadows can work as contours or cheek rouges. Mascara can even work as liquid eyeliner if you use an eyeliner brush and dip it into the mascara. If you really want to keep your makeup collection as minimal and cheap as possible, think of ways that certain products can be used in different ways.

6. Read/watch reviews: If you're planning on buying a high end expensive product, definitely take some time to read or watch reviews of the product. Look for swatches. Get some opinions, because that palette might not be what it's cracked up to be and you might end up wasting money on something you're never going to use. There are always reviews going up even before the release of some products, so it's a good idea to get some information before you buy.

Part Two: How to Buy Good Makeup on a Budget

1. elf cosmetics: I can't recommend elf enough. The prices are so cheap, and the makeup is actually quite good quality! I've heard some of their eyeshadows are actually dupes for MAC eyeshadows, although I personally haven't tested that theory. And elf is cruelty free! There's an elf cosmetics store here in NYC so every once in awhile I walk in there and load up. I think when elf first came out there was a stigma against the company for being cheap--not just in price but in quality and in brand association. But elf has really built itself up and I think it's just as good as any of the higher end brands, it's definitely better quality than a lot of the drugstore cosmetics that are actually more expensive! Some products I recommend: e.l.f. Cream Eyeliner, e.l.f. Contour Palette, and e.l.f. Blush Palette.

Some of H&M's store brand makeup--how cute is that?
2. Fashion Outlets: This might sound weird, and I might lose you for a second on this one, but you should definitely try makeup shopping at some popular fashion outlets like H&M and Forever 21. You're probably like, what? But go with me on this. Those stores usually carry either their own brand of makeup, like H&M, or some smaller and not well known cosmetic companies like Forever 21 does. You can get some cool stuff for dirt cheap! I know H&M always has makeup on sale, so you could raid the sale bin and come out with super cute lipsticks for $1 a pop! And while the makeup isn't always the best quality ever, it's not the worst.

3. Glambot.com: I get it–you want high end stuff! Trust me, girl (or guy, makeup is totally for everyone) I do too. This is where you go to get it. No, glambot is not sponsoring me or anything. I'm just really obsessed with it. Glambot is where you go to buy designer makeup for a discount–sometimes a pretty major discount! Basically people send in their new or very gently used makeup to Glambot, GB buys it off of them, cleans it up and makes sure it's sanitized, and then sells it for much cheaper than if you were to buy it in Sephora or from the brand directly. They don't carry every brand, but they carry quite an extensive list.

4. Make good use of rewards programs for higher end products: If you shop at Sephora with any kind of regularity, you should be part of the Beauty Insider program. It's free to sign up, and you get points with every purchase you make. You can save up points for free gifts that are usually pretty great–I've gotten mini-lipsticks, an exclusive Too Faced eyeshadow palette, some awesome hair serums. There's literally no reason not to have it. And on your birthday, you get a free gift! I think it changes from year to year, because from what I remember the last two years I've gotten a Makeup Forever sample kit, and a Nars lipstick duo. So, so worth it.

5. Shop the sales!: This sounds obvious, but stock up when sales come around! One of my favorite times of the year is the Victoria's Secret Semi-annual sale. Not just because I go crazy buying bras, but because VS also deeply discounts their makeup products. I'm talking well over 60-70% discounts. And the Victoria's Secret makeup line is pretty good–the eyeshadows aren't always the most pigmented, but they're glittery and pretty, so it's okay. Last year my mom and I walked into VS with the intention of buying practically one of everything, and that's pretty much what we did. We got dozens of makeup products for under $80. I'm serious. It's also a good idea to stock up around the holiday time, when stores like Sephora who don't normally offer sales are giving holiday packages and deals.

There it is! My guide to saving money on makeup, and knowing where to buy it so you don't break the bank. Let me know in the comments if you're going to try any of these tricks, or if you have any more ideas for how to be a makeup lover on a budget!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Student Loan Countdown Update #1

Student debt. Two words that strike fear into the heart of college students across the country. Having just graduated college a few days ago, my own student loan debt has been at the forefront of my thoughts. Full disclosure, I managed to pay off about $5000 of my biggest loan while I was still in school, so the number you'll see today isn't the full number that I borrowed. But it's still quite hefty, as you can see–

$32,970.40 of student loan debt as of 5/22/2107

One of the things I'd like to explore on this blog is my path to being debt free, so I'll be periodically making updates about my progress and sharing lots of tips and tricks along the way. If you're worried about how you're going to pay off your loans, try following along with me and see if we can make some progress together!

This is just the first of many, so be on the lookout for my next update post as well as some great posts to come detailing my strategies to save money, and make extra money on the side!


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Series I Really Need to Finish (Like, seriously)

The problem with reading a book series: actually finishing the series.

There are so many reasons why I haven't been able to finish all the series that I've started, many out of my control (or that's what I tell myself so I don't feel guilty shhh shhh shhh just go with it.) Sometimes I didn't have the money to buy all the books together, but more often than not it's that I started a series when only the first book was released and didn't work too hard at keeping up when the next books were published. So I fell behind. And it kept happening, because I kept starting new series.

Totally relatable, right? Please tell me I'm not the only one.

The other day I took the time to add a goodreads shelf and tag all the series I have to finish. I figured I'd make a post about it so you guys could tell me which series I really need to get my butt in gear over and just finish already.

(NOTE: Clicking the covers of the books will take you Amazon, where you can purchase the books in whatever format your beautiful little heart desires. You deserve only the best.)

• The Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi • 
(Yes I know the first cover doesn't match but that's the cover of the copy that I own and I personally like it better than the weird seasonally decorated eyeballs. So we're all just going to have to quiet that little voice in our heads that demands uniformity. Quiet down, little voice. Quiet down.)

There's absolutely no reason why I haven't finished this trilogy yet except pure laziness. I mean, it's a trilogy. In terms of series, trilogies are pretty easy to get through. I was lucky enough to get an ARC for Shatter Me before it came out and I totally devoured that book all at once–you can read my review of Shatter Me right here. I loved it. I even got one of my good friends to read it after I gifted her a copy for Christmas, and she finished the series before I did! She tells me it's amazing and that she knows I'll be happy with the ending. Perhaps I'll visit the book store and pick up Unravel Me next.

• The Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent •
I read all the way up to the 4th book, My Soul to Steal, and then once I finished it, I was stuck. I haven't finished this series because I actually refuse to. For some reason, this book series makes me really anxious and reading it is literally emotionally exhausting. Not to mention, I know what's going to happen next and I'm not sure if I'm actually ready to read it. I will, at some point. I really want to know how everything will resolve. And it has my bae 5ever, Tod. I love that boy like dog loves bacon. 

• The Lux series by Jennifer L. Armentrout •
(Can we take 2 seconds out of our lives to talk about the Origin cover? That ab definition. Mm.)

The Lux series is one I haven't finished out of pure laziness. Gosh, I'm such a bum. I love this series so much! Enough that I've purchased multiple copies of Obsidian and handed them out to friends, basically forcing them to read it. They had no choice. This friendship is not a democracy, it's a dictatorship. Now read your YA sci-fi romance!

Ahem, anyway. I've read up to the 3rd book, Opal. Lately my completely legitimate excuse is that I can't afford to buy new books so I've been relying on the good ol' New York Public Library to feed my need of books. The branch closest to me never seems to have Origin on the shelves, which is strange and annoying. I'm still checking though!

• The Steampunk Chronicles series by Kady Cross •

Ugh these covers give me life. Look at them, such pretty girls in awesome steampunk attire. This is my aesthetic. 

The Steampunk Chronicles is one of my favorite steampunk series of all time! I've read the first and second books, along with a short story that's not shown here that's a prequel to the series, and I'm completely obsessed with the world and characters that Kady Cross has created. Again, just a matter of laziness and, now, a budget that doesn't support the purchasing of books. I will finish it though, because my heart is thoroughly invested in one Jack Dandy. 

• The Widdershins Adventures series by Ari Marmell •
The Widdershins series is the high fantasy YA series that  I think needs to just blow up and become super popular. Knowing how hard that is and the way the book community is so easily distracted by the next shiny thing to pop up in Harper Teen's upcoming catalogue, I doubt it'll happen, but I'll do my part to share my love of this series. Which is why I confuse even myself when I realized that I haven't finished it. I've read the first and second books, both of which were sent to me for review, and love love loved them. Just thinking about how much I loved them is sort of convincing me to get off my lazy butt and find a copy of of Lost Covenant to start reading. Believe it or not, I'm pretty sure I saw it at my library the last time I went. 

These are just a few series I picked off my TBR shelf to showcase and talk about. Which series should I jump on right now? Please, give me a kick in the butt in the comments!

If you haven't read any of these books, you should totally click on them and give them a try! These may be series that I haven't finished, but they're series that I want to finish, and that's because they're great!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Changes coming...

I love my blog. I really do. This blog is the product of a deep rooted passion I have for reading; a passion that unfortunately has fallen to the wayside as adult life has sapped free time from my life. Reading is time consuming, and while I believe it's time well spent, it's sometimes hard to justify the hours spent in a book when a million other things need attending to.

I've realized, however, that there are so many things that I love talking about and sharing my thoughts on, like makeup, anime, animals, and even food. For so long I treated this blog as a strictly books only thing, but I've realized that this is mine. This is my space. I can do what I want with it, and so I will.

Books will not go away. This is, after all, called What's Your Story Book Reviews. I won't let the integrity of that name go to waste. But I think I can keep the life in this blog going if I allow myself to share all the other passions in my life occasionally too. I think you guys will enjoy it, actually. I'm brimming with ideas of things to share.

My reviews will still maintain what I like to believe is a sense of professionalism and will still have the same amount of effort put into them. But I think I'd also like to start journaling a little as well. Some more informal posts that are not so edited and are just stream of consciousness.

I hope you all will still be here for these changes as I move forward trying to get this blog up and in the air again, hopefully soaring higher than it did before. Books are still going to comprise the majority of this blog, hopefully something around 60% of the content. There'll just be room for other stuff too.

With much love,

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. In this meme we post about a book that we're eagerly anticipating!

This week I'm waiting for...
For as long as Fei can remember, there has been no sound in her village, where rocky terrain and frequent avalanches prevent residents from self-sustaining. Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom.
When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink and many go hungry. Fei’s home, the people she loves, and her entire existence is plunged into crisis, under threat of darkness and starvation.
But soon Fei is awoken in the night by a searing noise, and sound becomes her weapon.
Richelle Mead takes readers on a triumphant journey from the peak of Fei’s jagged mountain village to the valley of Beiugo, where a startling truth and an unlikely romance will change her life forever...

Let me know what you guys think and post links to your WoW posts so I can comment back!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Review: Before by Cambria Hebert

Pages: 45
Publisher: Otherworld Publications
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
#0.5 in Series
Source: Amazon
What if your life was charmed and everything in it was perfect…....

This is the story of my past. Of what things were like for me when everything was normal. Of what every teenager’s life is like. Clothes. Parties. Boys and summer vacation. What’s so wrong with that?

I liked it. I was happy.

Until things changed. I changed.

I didn’t know that lies and secrets were about to take over my existence. I didn’t know there was someone out there, someone meant just for me. I didn’t know that I was about to go on a journey, a journey that would lead me to the girl I am today.

This is the beginning of the worst year of my life. Would I go back and change things? Erase everything that has happened to go back into these moments?

Not a chance.

This is a story of before.

This was a very short prequel to the Heaven and Hell series by Cambria Hebert. It took me a few minutes to read, so it wasn't too time consuming which is good. I'm just trying to clean out my Kindle and I had downloaded it a very long time ago when it was free (the ebook costs $0.99 now) so I figured I should just read it before taking the file off.

Honestly, I'm not very interested in the series after reading Before. The writing style was fine, nothing too spectacular. But I just didn't see the point of this prequel. We learned nothing important about the characters except Sam is a stalker who works for a murderer and Heven (really? could her name be any cheesier?) is a normal, rather uninteresting teenage girl who cheerleads and likes boys. Good for you, girl, but you're kinda boring. This prequel didn't feel like it had any purpose to it other than to end on a very predictable cliffhanger in the hopes of getting you to buy the next book. Eh, not really interested.

2 out of 5 stars.

Amazon: Kindle

About the Author
Cambria Hebert is a latte sipping author of the Heven & Hell series, the Death Escorts series, and the Take It Off series. She loves a caramel latte, hates math and is afraid of chickens (yes, chickens). She went to college for a bachelor’s degree, couldn’t pick a major and ended up with a degree in cosmetology. So rest assured her characters will always have good hair. She currently lives in North Carolina with her husband and children (both human and furry) where she is plotting her next book.
Website | Twitter | Facebook
This book was downloaded from Amazon for my Kindle for free. All views expressed above are solely my own.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Books I Want SO Badly I Could Pee (12): The I've Been Gone for WAY too Long Edition

What is this feature?

This feature started a few years ago when I was joking with some authors on twitter about how just looking at their upcoming books made me want them so badly I could pee. I've been out of the blogging world for about a year now, and unfortunately I've fallen way behind when it comes to the newest books and what the latest trends are. But, I've been trying to catch up by visiting blogs and scouring Goodreads. This list of books is books that are either up and coming, or ones that were published in the past year that I missed out on and would really like to read.

The Books

Your greatest enemy isn't what you fight, but what you fear.

Elizabeth Grey is one of the king's best witch hunters, devoted to rooting out witchcraft and doling out justice. But when she's accused of being a witch herself, Elizabeth is arrested and sentenced to burn at the stake.

Salvation comes from a man she thought was her enemy. Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful and dangerous wizard in the kingdom, offers her a deal: he will save her from execution if she can break the deadly curse that's been laid upon him.

But Nicholas and his followers know nothing of Elizabeth's witch hunting past--if they find out, the stake will be the least of her worries. And as she's thrust into the magical world of witches, ghosts, pirates, and one all-too-handsome healer, Elizabeth is forced to redefine her ideas of right and wrong, of friends and enemies, and of love and hate.

Virginia Boecker weaves a riveting tale of magic, betrayal, and sacrifice in this unforgettable fantasy debut.
It’s 1814. Napoleon is exiled on Elba. Europe is in shambles. Britain is at war on four fronts. And Stranje House, a School for Unusual Girls, has become one of Regency England’s dark little secrets. The daughters of the beau monde who don't fit high society’s constrictive mold are banished to Stranje House to be reformed into marriageable young ladies. Or so their parents think. In truth, Headmistress Emma Stranje, the original unusual girl, has plans for the young ladies—plans that entangle the girls in the dangerous world of spies, diplomacy, and war.

After accidentally setting her father’s stables on fire while performing a scientific experiment, Miss Georgiana Fitzwilliam is sent to Stranje House. But Georgie has no intention of being turned into a simpering, pudding-headed, marriageable miss. She plans to escape as soon as possible—until she meets Lord Sebastian Wyatt. Thrust together in a desperate mission to invent a new invisible ink for the English war effort, Georgie and Sebastian must find a way to work together without losing their heads—or their hearts...
In a world at war, a slave girl’s lethal curse could become one kingdom’s weapon of salvation. If the curse—and the girl—can be controlled.

As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isn’t merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth — meaning, she shouldn’t even exist.

Standing on the auction block beneath smoke-drenched mountains, Nym faces her fifteenth sell. But when her hood is removed and her storm-summoning killing curse revealed, Nym is snatched up by a court advisor and given a choice: be trained as the weapon Faelen needs to win the war, or be killed.

Choosing the former, Nym is unleashed into a world of politics, bizarre parties, and rumors of an evil more sinister than she’s being prepared to fight . . . not to mention the handsome trainer whose dark secrets lie behind a mysterious ability to calm every lightning strike she summons.

But what if she doesn’t want to be the weapon they’ve all been waiting for?

Set in a beautifully eclectic world of suspicion, super abilities, and monsters, Storm Siren is a story of power. And whoever controls that power will win.

Why I'm Peeing

The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker •
I've seen this book everywhere since I started blogging again. And not just that, almost everything I've read about it has been raving about how great it is. I love fantasy, and this sounds like just the right amount of dark and gritty that would make it an engrossing read. Once I finish the current books on my Kindle, this is the first book I'm downloading!

A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin •
I love historical novels about girls boarding schools. Does that sound strangely specific? Well, just look at the A Great and Terrible Beauty series. That one was off the chain amazing. I have high hopes for this one too!

Storm Siren by Mary Weber •
I know this book was released a while ago, last year I'm pretty sure. But lately I've been seeing a few reviews for the sequel that look really intriguing, so my interest is piqued. Plus, that cover is pretty cool! I am definitely someone to judge a book by its cover.

What do you guys think of these novels? Read any of them? Please share with me down below!


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